by Vasco Duarte
Ryan has been experimenting with organizational ideas for a while. After initiating a 4-day work week in the company (more effective and more profitable), he and Alan, the co-founder of the company, tried to find a solution for a problem they ran into while the company grew.
Rumors, politics and other nasty things started to surface and it looked like management was the problem. So they decided to skip management. Completely!
On his blog he writes:
In my experience, managers started off as workers and then moved up the ladder, getting farther and farther from the front line. They gained power but slowly lost their touch with the day-to-day realities of talking to customers and actually creating solutions to their problems.
The five tasks of a manager
Ryan states that a manager has five main tasks:
- They bring messages from top to bottom,
- They are the judges when there are disputes
- They manage careers (there’s actually something to manage, apparently)
- They are the ones that should inspire people and make them happy.
- They shield their people from things they don’t need to know… (what the…?)
Since this a decision with a huge impact, Ryan wanted the whole company to vote for it. A staggering 90% of the employees thought it was a brilliant plan. So now they became a #NoManager company. If you would like to know how they are doing, read Ryan’s blog. Not only educative, but also a lot of fun to read.
On being a reluctant manager…
On the surface it looks like they are following the #NoManager path the other way around, trying to increase the number of managers in the company: they recently appointed a manager for the first time in their existence (although I believe they already had an office manager, but that’s something else).
When you read carefully, it’s not clear that they want more managers… This new manager does not ‘manage’ people (he himself is quite reluctant about being a manager), but he’s there foremost to speed up some key decisions for the company’s main product, Basecamp.
Hire Managers of One
It’s an entertaining story, but for me the real stuff is on the blog of 37signals. In one post they advise companies to ‘Hire Managers of One’:
A manager of one is someone who comes up with their own goals and executes them. They don’t need heavy direction. They don’t need daily check-ins. They do what a manager would do — set the tone, assign items, determine what needs to get done, etc. — but they do it by themselves and for themselves.
If you look at like that the problem isn’t that there are too many managers, but too few! So what do you think? Have I gone insane? Or are the wacky ideas actually the best ones? Just ask yourself, do you want a manager, or could you be a Manager of One?
Photo: Brooke Lark (Unsplash)